Wine of the Week: Tillerman Red, Hook & Ladder, Russian River, 2004

By Chris Sherman, Times Staff Writer
Published October 17, 2007

A fine taste of autumn for folks with fond memories of DeLoach wines or with a daring taste for new blends.

The DeLoach family made a name for their winery on the festival circuits with a great family story - Dad was a firefighter in San Francisco - and distinct wines from a special place, their pinot noir and chardonnay from Sonoma's Russian River.

The DeLoaches sold the brand in 2003 to a French company while they started a new winery.

The blend is new too: A little over half cabernet sauvignon, the rest is cabernet franc and Italianesque sangiovese. This is a real charmer, the best of Bordeaux and Chianti, big and rich but not too much. Medium body and smooth texture, a ripe aroma of red fruit, but with the berries and spice and lean slick texture of a pinot.

An affordable treat to drink with salmon or pork chops. Save some for turkey. Worth keeping for a few years.

Availability: $20, widely distributed.


Nightmarish brews at the party bar

Halloween is the best time to bring out ghoulish green liqueurs, orange and blue schnapps and red vodka.

Stir up a fright by dribbling red liqueurs into orange juice or grenadine into a creamy booze. Or splashing any color booze into lemon-lime soda or tonic.

Mad flavor scientists have new flavors bubbling away. The latest is pumpkin, pie-spicy and bright orange. Bols has introduced it in a liqueur, which is not yet common around the Tampa Bay area. Monin's syrup for coffee bars can be found at many retail outlets. Another tingling favorite is cinnamon, found in schnapps, vodka and syrups.

Torrontes si, chardonnay no

The ABC search for Anything But Chardonnay has turned up anther goodie, the torrontes grape, full of fruits and flowers but crisp and dry.

To find it, troll shelves for wines marked "other whites" or look under Argentina.

At $8 to $15, torrontes wines are an intriguing and affordable alternative. In a few, the citrus taste is more like a grapefruit-tinged sauvignon blanc, but the best have the peachy scent and taste of viognier and the racy briskness of riesling.